As far as months go, I can’t say I care much for February.
This isn’t for the reason most might expect. It’s not the weather. For most of Canada, February is dark, cheerless, and frigid – the furthest thing from the festive winter wonderland of a couple months prior.
I experienced 30 straight years of that. But now, living on the west coast in Vancouver, February days are noticeably longer, the temperatures rest well above zero (some winters, it never even goes below freezing), and although it rains for days and weeks on end, at least you don’t have to shovel.
Neither is my distaste for February because of abandoned New Year’s resolutions, although we’re getting warmer with this one.
I have a fairly decent record of successful New Year’s resolutions, fuelled in part by my already robust sense of discipline and the rest through my improved recognition of what makes a long-term goal achievable (hint: a plan is a great first step).
However, while I do eventually see my goals completed, I never make much progress on them in February, which is the reason I dislike this month so much.
February is such a frustratingly short month – those 2-3 lost days really do make a noticeable difference. It’s also one of the busiest months at my job. I rack up more overtime in February than any other time of the year.
I also have to work two Saturdays in February for at least nine hours apiece. I do get the (exhausted) Sunday that follows off, but am then back to work the following Monday.
Since evenings and weekends are when I work on my personal projects, in February, I don’t get much personal work done at all. In truth, in February, I feel like I accomplish next to nothing for myself.
Yet this is clearly not the case when I look at how many birthdays I have to celebrate this month.
It’s my birthday (and birthday, and birthday, and birthday)
To be clear, I’m not referring to those of other people. The birthdays in question are all mine. And not a single one of them related to my actual birth.
Chief among them is my writing birthday. Honestly, I think I spend more time anticipating my writing birthday than I do my biological one, for all that I manage to miss the actual day of my writing birthday almost every single year, and do almost nothing to celebrate it.
This year, on February 12, I became an eight-year-old writer. And I passed the day by getting up at 6:30am to go to the gym, working through my lunch break, leaving work late, going to bed early to get up early for work the next day (Saturday), and by not realizing it was my writing birthday until four days later.
I don’t know that writing birthdays are an actual thing for most writers, but for me, it’s a key milestone in my writing life and my life in general.
It commemorates the day I began writing my first (incomplete, shelved, torturously overwritten) fantasy novel, which I likewise equates to my adoption of a professional attitude about my writing and decision to someday pursue publication, that novel’s ultimate fate notwithstanding.
(Admittedly, I not 100% certain of the day all of the above actually happened. I had to do a bit of forensic accounting of old emails to a friend and the 2002 calendar to figure out which day best corresponded to everything else I recall from that February , thus yielding a best-guess writer DOB of February 12, 2002.)
This year is the very first writing birthday I’ve passed with a completed work to my credit.
(Only in draft, with lengthy revisions before me. But still – it’s the first time.)
I’m of course referring to my much-discussed historical fiction trilogy – the equal parts boon and bane of my writing life for over a decade.
That has a February birthday as well. Not the day that I started it, which was actually June 21, 2005, but the day that I restarted it, six years later.
The infamous six-year writing hiatus has also been a bane and boon (it’s also the reason the math on my writing birthday doesn’t seem to add up at first glance). On one hand, had I not quit, my trilogy would probably have been long completed by now and I’d be well onto my next project.
On the other hand, I know all the living and growing up I did during those six years gave me a more informed and nuanced view of the world that has served my subsequent writing much better.
So instead of lamenting what could have been during those lost six years, I simply acknowledge the day that period ended: February 20, 2012.
Short month, long plans
Incidentally, February 20 also corresponds with my blogging birthday.
The same night I restated my novel-in-progress, I also started (restarted) blogging, which I hadn’t previously done since 2006. My very first post on this blog – written exactly four years ago from this past Saturday – was as follows:
After just under six years, I am officially a writer again! I wrote 126 words on my half-completed novel. It hurt like hell! Old creative muscles are out of shape.
I’m also a blogger again, for that matter.
I’ve consistently blogged once a week (save during major holidays) ever since, and on February 8, posted my 200th post!
But that’s not all. February is also when I took over as the organizer and moderator of a writers’ social group on Meetup.com.
I’d belonged to this group for about a year in 2013 when the group’s originator moved to Arizona. Since I’d been contemplating creating a similar group just prior to joining this one – a group where writers socialize and talk exclusively about craft and the business of writing – for me to assume leadership seemed an obvious choice.
I forked over my first payment of Meetup’s hefty organizer fees (billed only in US dollars!) on February 27, 2013, and have been running the group ever since.
It’s proven to be one of the best writing-related decisions I’ve ever made. Not only has it resulted in friendships that extend beyond the group meetings where previously knew no other writers at all, I’ve also found at least one skilled critique partner, which can be as difficult to find as it is indispensable to any serious writer.
Looking back over the years at all the long-term pursuits I’ve commenced and February – and more importantly, continue to pursue – it actually seems rather silly for me to dislike February as much as I do.
2017, therefore, will be different. Not only will I remember these important dates as they happen (with a little help from my perpetual birthdays calendar), I’ll do more to focus on the positive – the things I’ve already managed to achieve instead of just all I still have to do.
Do you observe any other birthdays besides your actual date of birth? Tell more about it in the comments.